While Hava Castaneda’s commentary on gender was well-written, it is still important to differentiate the difference between gender and sex. Sex refers to the physical genitalia that a person is born with while gender refers to the mental identity of the person. As revealed by the transgender community in particular, the two do not have to match up.
Saying that ‘gender neutral is unnatural’ is saying that male and female gender roles are natural, which they are not. Gender roles were a construct created and honed throughout history by people and their cultural, religious, and societal values. The reason gender roles are so damaging is because they infringe on the inherent freedoms people possess.
Even when you’re not transgender, gender roles influence and restrict us in everyday choices, and are the fuel for sexism. Although biology shapes our anatomy and results in a some sexual/biological instincts, it does not create significant differences in personality between girls and boys; it’s the way we raise our children that does this.
As Castaneda pointed out, it’s totally fine for boys to do things that are traditionally feminine and for girls to do things that are traditionally masculine. But to still insist on calling them a boy or girl can be confusing, raising the question: what is a boy or girl? If males and females can act however they want, when what is the point of even having gender roles?
Gender neutrality is a big step to take, for sure, but a good one. More and more we realize how gender divides and impedes us-it’s time to throw the concept away once and for all.
Lola Olvera, Orange Coast College student